Australian Academy of Science 7Sept10 B Moggridge CSIRO


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Presentation - ABORIGINAL KNOWLEDGE AND CULTURAL VALUES OF WATER to the Australian Academy of Science

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Australian Academy of Science 7Sept10 B Moggridge CSIRO

  1. 1. ABORIGINAL KNOWLEDGE AND CULTURALVALUES OF WATERAustralian Academy of SciencesWater management options for urban and rural AustraliaBradley Moggridge7 September 2010
  2. 2. Name the Title Page cultural site, if not this one?
  3. 3. Outline 1. Who I am as identity is important and NAIDOC 2010 2. Aboriginal Water Knowledge 3. Planning Opportunities 4. Values of Water 5. Cultural Flow 6. Gaps
  4. 4. MeToongabbie NSW Kamilaroi Nation Culturally I am Lucky and Unlucky: Lucky - as I have a huge proud Murri familyAmaroo ACT 2010 and have a good education; and Unlucky - as I have not grown up on Country and cannot speak my language
  5. 5. Unsung Heroes: closing the gap by leading their wayNAIDOC 2010 POSTER Artist: Sheree Blackley from Mt Isa QLD Description of work: The artwork depicts an Aboriginal mother who is an unsung hero leading her children through example, showing that actions can speak louder than words. The dot work illustrates nurturing and teaching from birth, always guiding our children towards closing the gap, towards success for those who choose to stay on the path.
  6. 6. Unsung Heroes and LeadersAboriginal heroes and leaders struggle to influence on a grand scale,as locally their issues are to greatI don’t see myself as a leader, I just owe it to my ancestorsDilemma for current generations: Aboriginal Demographics (75% under 24 years of age) Losing our Knowledge Holders at a great rate We are at risk of losing far too much We need to sit down and listen to our grass roots people
  7. 7. Outline 1. Who I am as identity is important and NAIDOC 2. Aboriginal Water Knowledge 3. Planning Opportunities 4. Values of Water 5. Cultural Flow 6. Gaps
  8. 8. Aboriginal Water Knowledge = Survival• Aboriginal people are still here (climate change and all)• Aboriginal people’s ability to survive in and understand the Australian landscape is astounding this equates to: Generations of Traditional Knowledge• A precise classification system was developed for water sites Aboriginal people know how to find and re-find water in a dry landscape• BUT, Aboriginal people are still not part of the “western equation” in identifying how, when and where water flows in Australia
  9. 9. Aboriginal Water KnowledgeA hypothetical addition:D + TLC = 5000+/- D = The “Dreaming” TLC = Traditional Lore and Customs 5000+/-* generations of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and survival on the driest inhabited continent on earth *Based on 20years = 1 Generation (Wikipedia)With the current state of the Country, who should protect andnurture our country back to health - Aboriginal people, why? Deep seated understanding and long relationship Customary obligation Are happier and healthier (in spirit and wellbeing) when we have the same opportunities and standards of living as all Australians
  10. 10. Word Break Frogs at “Royal” Brewarrina Golf ClubBaiame’s Ngunnhu – Barwon RiverBrewarrina Aboriginal Fishtraps
  11. 11. Outline 1. Who I am as identity is important and NAIDOC 2. Aboriginal Water Knowledge 3. Planning Opportunities 4. Values of Water 5. Cultural Flow 6. Gaps
  12. 12. Opportunities - National Water Initiative• The National Water Initiative of 2004 for the first time explicitly recognised Indigenous rights and interests in national water policy (paragraph 25(ix)): “recognise Indigenous needs in relation to water access and management”Paragraphs 52–54Indigenous Access 52. The Parties will provide for indigenous access to water resources, in accordance with relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation, through planning processes that ensure: i) inclusion of Indigenous representation in water planning wherever possible; and ii) water plans will incorporate indigenous social, spiritual and customary objectives and strategies for achieving these objectives wherever they can be developed. 53. Water planning processes will take account of the possible existence of native title rights to water in the catchment or aquifer area. The Parties note that plans may need to allocate water to native title holders following the recognition of native title rights in water under the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993. 54. Water allocated to native title holders for traditional cultural purposes will be accounted for.
  13. 13. Second Biennial Assessment of NWI 2009Indigenous Specific Findings and Recommendations:Finding 1.6 It is rare for Indigenous water requirements to be explicitly included in water plans, and most jurisdictions are not yet engaging Indigenous people effectively in water planning processes. The Commission notes that Indigenous groups are, at their own initiative, currently developing the capacity to participate more fully in water planning processesRecommendation 1.4 The Commission recommends that all jurisdictions develop and publish processes for effective engagement of Indigenous people in water planning. Parties should ensure that all new water plans (including statutory reviews of existing water plans) provide for Indigenous access to water resources by at least incorporating Indigenous social, spiritual and customary objectives and strategies for achieving those objectives. Jurisdictional processes should also make clear how Indigenous groups can pursue their legitimate economic objectives
  14. 14. Second Biennial Assessment of NWI 2009Indigenous Specific Findings and Recommendations:Finding 6.7 Water to meet Indigenous social, spiritual and customary objectives is rarely clearly specified in water plans. It appears often to be implicitly assumed that these objectives, where considered at all, can be met by rules-based environmental water provisionsRecommendation 6.5 The Commission recommends further exploration of Indigenous needs in relation to water access and management, and mechanisms to meet those needs. The Commission proposes to initiate a national study on this matter
  15. 15. The Third NWI Biennial Assessment• The Third Biennial Assessment is due in 2011• Will it be a cut and past from the 2009 Assessment? Aboriginal interests in water planning are still neglected• The formation of the First Peoples’ Water Engagement Council just recently will assist the NWC: to incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective into NWC processes and projects to hopefully move on from a cut and past scenario
  16. 16. UN Declaration• On 3 April 2009 the Australian Federal Government gave its support to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People, and for the purpose of this presentation Article 25 is of relevance as it states: Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.
  17. 17. Word Break Ngemba Mission Billabong - Barwon RiverThirlmere Lakes - Tahmoor
  18. 18. Outline 1. Who I am as identity is important and NAIDOC 2. Aboriginal Water Knowledge 3. Planning Opportunities 4. Values of Water 5. Cultural Flow 6. Gaps
  19. 19. Value of Water to Aboriginal People• Aboriginal peoples’ value to water is sacred, deep and necessary for survival.• It is protected by Lore, which provide a system of sustainable management ensuring healthy people• Aboriginal people’s connection with Country does not separate the individual features of the landscape• Non-Aboriginal laws and traditions tend to separate water from the land and from the sky
  20. 20. Value of Water to Aboriginal People• Aboriginal cultural and economic values associated with waters are poorly understood by water resource managers including the cultural economy (i.e. 1 echidna may equal 3 yellow bellies)• The poor understanding leads to poor allocations/entitlements• Aboriginal people are critical of water managers for the exclusive focus given to satisfying ecological criteria in environmental watering
  21. 21. The Value of Healthy WaterWater that is of adequate quantities and quality is the centre andlife blood to a healthy existence for all Healthy People Healthy Water Healthy Healthy Country Culture
  22. 22. Water Dependent Cultural ValuesThe water dependent cultural values will relate to the below culturalassets in the form of: • Creation sites and cultural hero stories linking with spiritual significance along a song line/dreaming tracks - non-tangible (“Dreaming Sites”); • Language (connects culture to place); • Resource sites for traditional bush foods and medicines; • Resource sites for artefacts, tools, art and crafts; • Gender specific sites – men’s and women’s business; • Ceremonial sites;
  23. 23. Water Dependent Cultural ValuesWait theres more:• Burial places/sites;• Teaching sites;• Massacre sites where frontier battles occurred with traditional groups;• Tribal boundary indicators, landscape features, or stone arrangements;• Cultural specific environmental conditions to sustain totemic species; and• Sites that contain physical/tangible evidence of occupation middens, campsites, artefact scatters, scarred and carved trees, stone arrangements and fish traps
  24. 24. Aboriginal Water Conceptual Model
  25. 25. Outline 1. Who I am as identity is important and NAIDOC 2. Aboriginal Water Knowledge 3. Planning Opportunities 4. Values of Water 5. Cultural Flow 6. Gaps
  26. 26. Cultural Flow• Aboriginal people rely heavily on rivers, groundwater and wetlands to access their values both tangible and non-tangible,• Many values require a flow, otherwise the story/connection is lost• The terms Cultural Flow and Cultural Water have been mentioned and described in a number of published papers and reports, below is a personal description of both: Cultural Flow: is the water determined/managed by an Aboriginal group and ordered from an water authority to arrive at a certain time of year (seasonal) for a certain cultural purpose to sustain their local water dependant cultural values Cultural Water: is the water body itself that sits in a billabong, wetland or river that allows Aboriginal people to undertake their custodial and cultural responsibilities. This cultural water, Aboriginal people engage and interact with rather than extract, irrigate or store for economic or environmental purposes (Following discussions with F.Hooper, 2010)
  27. 27. Cultural Flow• Water Plans generally assume that environmental water or flows will meet cultural values, including Aboriginal social and economic values• The problem here is that Aboriginal people are rarely engaged to determine environmental flows• Other challenges include for Aboriginal water entitlements: Lack of data No clear definitions Lack of policy and guidance Lack of understanding
  28. 28. Cultural Flow• In a report to the NSW Healthy Rivers Commission by Behrendt and Thompson 2003 state that: Cultural flows should be an essential component of river management. A ‘cultural flow’ can be set and monitored as sufficient flow in a suitable pattern to ensure the maintenance of Aboriginal cultural practices and connections with the rivers (Behrendt and Thompson 2003)• Another definition offered by a MDLRIN delegate from the Yorta Yorta Nation, Professor Henry Atkinson: Cultural Flows’ are water entitlements that are legally and beneficially owned by the Indigenous Nations of a sufficient and adequate quantity and quality to improve the spiritual, cultural, environmental, social and economic conditions of those Indigenous Nations (Atkinson 2009)
  29. 29. Cultural Flow• Definitions and needs for cultural water by Aboriginal people may differ at a local scale• A representative definition of a Cultural Flow is yet to be agreed upon by the 250+ Aboriginal Nations within Australia AIATSIS (2005)
  30. 30. Australia with NO Cultural Water
  31. 31. Australia with Cultural Water
  32. 32. Outline 1. Who I am as identity is important and NAIDOC 2. Aboriginal Water Knowledge 3. Opportunities 4. Values of Water 5. Cultural Flow 6. Gaps
  33. 33. Gaps in Knowledge• No research is yet to quantify a cultural flow i.e. no credible evidence• No research has compared a cultural flow to an environmental flow• There is a severe lack of quantitative real data on Aboriginal water uses and values: So a need for further primary data collection or case specific investigations (Long Term)• There are substantial gaps in science of identifying Aboriginal water requirements – Culturally and Economically• Aboriginal people do not have the big reports or glossy maps, all their knowledge is obtained orally, in song, stories through TEK
  34. 34. CSIRO• CSIRO investing in Aboriginal water management through the Water for a Healthy Country Flagship: Work to date in Northern Australia CSIRO Indigenous Engagement Strategy CSIRO Indigenous Employment Strategy, aiming to increase Indigenous employment in CSIRO to 2.5% CSIRO three National Indigenous Roundtables on: o Indigenous Research, 2008 in Broome o Water and Climate Change, 2008 in Mildura o Health, 2009 in Adelaide Employment of Brad Moggridge• CSIRO has a strong interest in developing long term research activity to address Aboriginal water requirements
  35. 35. Wrap Up• Aboriginal people have a long and deep relationship with water but are not part of the water debate• Aboriginal people have opportunities to engage in water through the NWI and UN Declaration, but jurisdictions need to allow this to occur• Aboriginal people want to protect Country as their relationship with Country does not separate the individual features of the landscape such as water, land and sky• A growing body of interest in a Cultural Flow• There are considerable gaps in knowledge in understanding how water is used by Aboriginal people both economically and culturally and what benefits TEK can provide “Western Science”• While I am at CSIRO I will be keeping this issue on the lab bench
  36. 36. Thanks goes toChair, Professor Graham FarquharDr Tom HattonSavita KhianiDr Fiona Leves
  37. 37. Brad Moggridge ph: 02 6246 5633 or QUESTIONSThank youContact UsPhone: 1300 363 400 or +61 3 9545 2176Email: Web: